Discover more from anson's kinda secret substack
sparkly people and how to find them
and other long overdue life updates
I don’t pride myself on much, but am constantly delighted by the people I get to spend time around. I attribute it to judgement exercised over time, through internet over-socialization and secret society-esque fellowships.
There’s an intangible quality in some people that just makes them magnetic. It’s not quite the loud sociability that characterizes the life of the party, and isn’t just rote bookishness.
Friends and I call it the “sparkle”. They reliably shine in every context. It’s a joie de vivre mixed in with a dedication to craft, lightly encased in wit. Chances are, they’ll become the best in their field (and have fun doing it). You just want to be around them. They have a good vibe.
Note that the “sparkle” is limited to people that are actively prosocial. Being nefarious, even in trace amounts, takes away from the bit.
I care a lot about is finding these people - particularly, picking them out early. Selfishly, they’re fun to be around. Tactically, I think more of them should know each other. I attribute most of any personal success to good luck and great friends. I’d like to enable that for someone else.
Treasure Hunt Clues
Part of me is hesitant to compile these because they may become anti-signals, obfuscating the indicators. However, these things are pure enough that there is no way to imitate without actually becoming closer to this idealized figure in some way.
Ability to make value neutral observations - Can they hold something in the space between judgement and apathy? How often do they use sensational descriptions? Ideally, they’re able to observe something, suspend opinion, and take it for what it is.
Hype adjacent - Can they understand the cultural zeitgeist, without completely falling into it? Are they able to exist comfortably without falling into every micro-trend or hype train? Folded into this, is a certainty in self.
Normalized kindness - How do they treat people, regardless of status?
Consistency of creativity - Do they make things? The output doesn’t have to be discrete code projects or thinkpiece essays - crocheted items, cooking, and gardening more than count. Kudos to anyone that demonstrates a degree of creative regularity (the ultimate transferrable skill).
Within first conversation
Refusal to accept messy explanations - There’s a couple parts to this. When interacting with a new concept, they’re certain enough in their intellectual ability to recognize messy explanations. Secondarily, they’re usually annoyed enough with knowledge gaps that they’ll ask clarifying questions.
Ability to teach things at varying levels - They also don’t give messy explanations. Can they explain to make the student feel smart, and not just to seem smart? Can they translate jargon?
Relationship with useful vices - How do they interact with things that are meant to be bad for you? Examples being social media and alcohol. Similarly, is one’s ability to package blobby ambitions into understandable reference frames. Is this company/magazine/fund a socially legible manifestation of a more ambiguous goal?
Relationship with recommendations - Have they actually engaged with the things pass along?
Callback ability - This is shorthand for their ability to contextualize new information quickly. How big is their mental RAM? This may look like someone’s propensity to make connections/references in conversation.
Interest in history of their field of expertise - Do they recognize the people that have come before them? Knowing history can embed agency. Nothing is “just the way things are”, but are someone’s passion project or life’s work.
Default peace - This one I’m stealing from John Keats. In his selected letters, he highlights a willingness to make peace with ambiguity. Being ok with being confused because it will eventually work itself out.
Other things were considered but didn’t make the list.
Minimal Time To Squealing (TTS) - How long does it take for them to pin down what someone else most wants to talk about?
Taken out because it was too extrovert coded.
No pedestalizing - Can they talk to people they admire without making them feel weird?
Ideally yes, but it’s reasonable to be excited by your idols.
These lists are neither comprehensive or complete. Just fuzzy flags I find useful. Let me know if you use any others!
Anson Related Updates
Some overdue updates. I didn’t promise consistency! I promised a good time! Virginia Woolf said it best when she said that “life piles up so fast that you have no time to write out the equally fast rising mound of reflections”.
We finished filming our documentary on climate solutions in the Southern US! It was a month long road trip that felt like filmmaking bootcamp. We’re going for a feature length film - currently mid-edit
I wrote a bunch. Words on mining discovery, the relationship between cities and development, filmmaking, and starting projects. Also bashing heads with friends on climate anthropology, and communal computing.
I gave 2 workshops! One on climate tech and the other on startup recruiting. Maybe it’s thousands of years of oral history or maybe it’s just me, but I really like the format.
We threw a big symposium to showcase nearly 20 awesome independent passion projects. This felt like my brain child come to life. Seeing the crowd was surreal.
I finally jumped in head first and quit everything to make learn film stuff! It is a completely new arena, I’m learning everything from cinematography to sanctioned aspect ratios. My brain is overstimulated with new info but I am very happy.
It still feels quite raw to wear my heart on my sleeve and ask people to judge me but we’re launching something soon! Follow along here.
Currently living in New York! A side quest has been sneaking into classes at Columbia (because apparently it makes sense to attend the classes you don’t pay for, but skip the ones you do).
We were bringing back Waterloo by rebuilding the social machine. Big events, weekly coworking sessions, and organizing pranks/schemes. We are looking to scale the chaos.
I had a horrendous 5 day travel bender trying to get home for Christmas. After 8 cancelled flights and an excursion on national news, it concluded with a cross country train where I rallied 20 strangers to watch the Polar Express
I am travelled out. Nothing sounds as good as 4 months in the same place right now. Every trip breathes new life into me but airports suck it away like a little tax.
Sometimes I joke to JM that because pretty privilege is so real, if I’m serious about making any sort of impact I have a moral obligation to become as hot as possible. Cue montage?
We made this app at Hack Lodge for 3D hand inputs to your computer. It was the first time I really felt like a good engineer. I felt like I was finally asking the right questions and helped people debug. Past me would be bouncing off the walls. Like WHAT.
The Grid - A nice dose of realism to inform my enthusiasm towards clean energy.
World for Sale - One of those books that make you realize nothing just exists. Everything is created and thus, anything can be created. Shared by Henry.
That’s all! If you enjoyed reading let me know, maybe I’ll write more LOL